Firm tied to Russian oligarch also hired 2nd Trump lawyer, registered alt-right and fake news web domains

Michael Cohen in federal court
(Image credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

In what it describes as a coincidence, Columbus Nova, the Russian-linked New York investment firm that paid $500,000 to President Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen last year for unspecified investment consulting, also hired Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz to represent it in a commercial lawsuit, ProPublica reports. A Kasowitz spokesman told ProPublica that Kasowitz and his partners represented Columbus Nova in a lawsuit from 2010 until early 2017, and said Cohen's brief time working in Kasowitz's Manhattan offices in February 2017 had no connection to the Columbus Nova work.

Columbus Nova, which used to call itself "the U.S. investment vehicle for the Renova Group” but now refers to Renova as a client, is led by CEO Andrew Intrater, a cousin of Renova owner Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch. A spokesman told ProPublica that Kasowitz did not introduce Columbus Nova to Cohen. Columbus Nova, like several other companies, paid Cohen through Essential Consultants LLC, a shell company he set up in October 2016 to secretly pay porn star Stormy Daniels to keep silent about her purported extramarital affair with Trump. The shell company's existence wasn't known publicly until The Wall Street Journal revealed it in January.

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.